Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Childhood (09/03/09)
TITLE: You’ll Never be Beaten Here, I promise
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â€śEthan!â€ť Connieâ€™s throat grew tight. She had no choice but to call the social worker who had assigned Ethan to Connie and her husband, Carl, a few weeks earlier.
â€śEthan is missing,â€ť she blurted out before Rebecca could finish her greeting. â€śIâ€™ve looked everywhere.â€ť Connie found herself pacing. <i>Oh Lord, where is he? Please keep him safe.</i>
â€śCalm down, Connie. Heâ€™s probably run away,â€ť Rebecca said.
Connie stood still. â€śWhy would he do that?â€ť
â€śYou tell me. We get a lot of foster kids who run away. Ethan has been in the system a long time, and with numerous foster families. Heâ€™s run away before.â€ť She sighed. â€śI admit, I thought he was happy with you and Carl, but itâ€™s hard to tell with these 'damaged' kids.â€ť
Thinking more clearly, Connie contemplated the past few weeks. â€śHeâ€™s a bright little boy. I thought he was settling in.â€ť She paused. â€śCarl offered to take Ethan fishing when he returns from the office. He needed a file to work on over the weekend.â€ť
â€śOkay, Iâ€™ll call the local police and then come round. Just stay calm.â€ť
Carl came in just as Connie hung up the phone. â€śLook who I found in the car under a blanket.â€ť
â€śEthan, you scared me half to death.â€ť She placed her hand over her mouth and sat down at the table.
Ethan hung his head. â€śI was going to run away when Carl got to town but I fell asleep.â€ť
â€śWhy would you want to run away?â€ť Connie dared to ask.
â€śI got scared. When the Bakerâ€™s took me fishing they got mad at me because I broke their new rod. They beat me with it and told me I was selfish.â€ť
Carl sat beside Connie and drew Ethan close. â€śYouâ€™ll never be beaten here, I promise.â€ť
â€śEven if I wet my bed? Mrs. Beasley wiped my face with the sheets and then made me wash them.â€ť
Connie gasped. â€śThereâ€™s no excuse for bad behavior by any adult.â€ť She thought for a moment before continuing. â€śYou havenâ€™t wet your bed since youâ€™ve been here. Do you think thereâ€™s a reason for that?â€ť
â€śIâ€¦Iâ€¦donâ€™t know,â€ť Ethan shrugged. â€śIâ€™m not scared here.â€ť
Carl took the boyâ€™s hand. â€śWe donâ€™t have to go fishing today. What kind of things do you like to do?â€ť
Ethan tilted his head and bit his lower lip. He shrugged again.
â€śDo you like going to the movies?â€ť Connie encouraged.
â€śI donâ€™t know. Iâ€™ve never been. I watched cartoons sometimes at the Websterâ€™s. The other families didnâ€™t let me watch TV.â€ť
â€śFootball?â€ť Carl asked.
â€śThe beach?â€ť Connie added.
Ethan began to whimper. â€śIâ€¦Iâ€¦havenâ€™t been anywhere muchâ€”just school and your playground.â€ť A lone tear rolled down his face. â€śI like your playground.â€ť He wiped the tear away. â€śCan I go there again?â€ť
Connie looked at Carl for a long moment. She pulled Ethan onto her lap. He was short for a seven-year-old but it was his frail body and lightness that surprised her. Ethan stiffened but soon relaxed in Connieâ€™s cuddle. She kissed his cheek. â€śWe can go to the park together. How about a picnic of burgers and soda?â€ť She released her embrace. A tear stained face looked back at her.
â€śWhatâ€™s a pic-nic?â€ť
Carl sighed deeply. His sad eyes met Connieâ€™s. â€śThereâ€™s a lot we can do. I think a picnic lunch at the playground is the perfect place to begin.â€ť
A knock sounded at the front door. â€śRebecca. I forgot all about her.â€ť
Carl let Rebecca in and explained the situation.
Ethanâ€™s lip trembled. He looked up at Connie. â€śWill I have to go to another foster family?â€ť
â€śNo sweetie,â€ť Rebecca answered for Connie. â€śBut you need to talk to Carl and Connie if youâ€™re unsure of anything.
â€śConnie and Carl wonâ€™t beat me.â€ť It was a statement rather than a question.
Rebecca knelt down beside Ethan as he slid of Connieâ€™s lap. â€śNo, Ethan. This family isâ€¦different.â€ť
Ethan looked up at Carl then to Connie, then back to Rebecca. â€śWhy are they different?â€ť
â€śWell firstly,â€ť Carl began. â€śWe have a special friend that we plan to introduce you to as we grow to know each other. We also hope to adopt youâ€¦if thatâ€™s okay.â€ť
The corners of Ethanâ€™s mouth lifted.
â€śReally? Yes, please!â€ť
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